A Closer Look at Pickleball: Unraveling the History and Growth of the Sport


Over the past decade, a game with a peculiar name and an even more intriguing story has been taking the sports world by storm. Pickleball, an amalgamation of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, has rapidly grown from a backyard pastime into a global phenomenon. This blog post aims to delve deep into the world of pickleball, tracing its origins, explaining its rules, and charting its meteoric rise in popularity.

I. The Birth of Pickleball

Pickleball was born in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington. Joel Pritchard, then a State Representative and later Lieutenant Governor of Washington, and his friends Bill Bell and Barney McCallum were seeking a way to entertain their children one lazy afternoon. They improvised a game using ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball on a badminton court. The result was a fun, accessible sport that captivated players of all ages.

As the game evolved, the creators refined the rules, focusing on creating a game that was challenging yet retained its fun nature. The unique name ‘pickleball’ is said to have derived from the Pritchard’s family dog, Pickles, who would chase after the errant balls.

II. How to Play Pickleball

Pickleball can be played in singles or doubles format on a court measuring 20×44 feet, which is roughly the size of a doubles badminton court. The game starts with an underhand serve from the right-hand service square to the diagonally opposite service square. The key rules that define the game are the double-bounce rule, non-volley zone, and fault rules.

  1. Double-Bounce Rule: The double-bounce rule states that each team must let the ball bounce once before volleying (hitting the ball without letting it bounce) it. This applies to the serve and the return of the serve.
  2. Non-Volley Zone: Also known as the ‘kitchen,’ this is a seven-foot area extending from the net on both sides of the court. Players can’t volley the ball while standing in this zone.
  3. Faults: Points are scored on faults. Faults occur when the ball is hit out of bounds, doesn’t clear the net, is volleyed before a bounce has occurred on each side, is volleyed from the kitchen, or is hit by a player or their paddle before it bounces and the player is not in the kitchen.

III. The Growth and Popularity of Pickleball

From its humble beginnings, pickleball has grown to become an international sport with formalized rules overseen by organizations like the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) and the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP).

In the United States, pickleball’s popularity has soared. According to a Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) report, there were over 3.3 million pickleball players in the US as of 2020, reflecting a growth of over 21.3% from the previous year. The sport is also spreading worldwide, with national associations established in many countries and competitive events such as the US Open Pickleball Championships drawing players globally.

IV. Conclusion

Pickleball’s blend of simplicity and competitiveness, accessibility across age groups and skill levels, and the sense of community it fosters among players, are key to its growing appeal. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete looking for a new challenge or a family looking for a fun activity that everyone can enjoy, pickleball fits the bill perfectly. The rise of pickleball is a testament to the enduring appeal of games